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Gophers Be Gone! The Not-So-Cute Truth About Agricultural Damage From This Pest

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Pest damage is a big problem for those who operate a farm or other agricultural-based business. For most farmers, controlling pests is an important part of their farm management program and a must for protecting their profit margin on the crops and livestock they produce. 

While much is written about rodents from the context of rats and mice, the subject of gopher damage is less well known. Farmers and ranchers who are seeing a growing population of gophers on their property can use the following information to help understand the damage that gophers can cause and how they can best rid their land of this cute but devastating pest. 

Gopher holes cause livestock losses

Farmers and ranchers who raise large livestock, like cattle and horses, on their properties know that if one of these animals breaks their leg, they almost always have to be euthanized. This means a loss of hundreds or thousands of dollars for each occurrence. Unfortunately, large animals frequently experience broken legs and other severe injuries by stepping into holes, like those formed by gopher burrows.

Gophers consume crop roots 

Another common cause of damage that gophers are responsible for on agricultural land is their consumption of crop roots. Alfalfa, a high-protein forage crop favored by beef and dairy producers, provides a favorite food source for gophers. In fact, gophers can decimate alfalfa crops through their consumption of their roots. In addition to alfalfa roots, gophers are also drawn to root crops, like carrots, potatoes, and turnips, as well as the young tender bark on developing fruit trees. 

Gophers cause equipment and infrastructure damage

Farmers and ranchers also experience expensive equipment and infrastructure damage due to gophers. In drier climates where irrigation is used to produce crops or keep orchards growing, thirsty gophers have been known to bite into buried irrigation hoses and pipes. 

Gophers are also able to wreak havoc for farmers and ranchers by causing damage to tractors and farm equipment. Each gopher is capable of churning up large mounds of earth each day as they forage for roots and dig large burrows and tunnels. 

As tractors and farm machinery drive across these burrows, the soft dirt can collapse, letting one or more of the wheels fall through. This can put axles and drive train components under stress or cause other damage that must be repaired. 

Farmers and ranchers who are just beginning to see gopher activity on their land may be able to prevent their spread by using gopher traps to capture these rodents. If the population is already a large one, contacting a reputable pest management company is a good idea.